If not Google then what?

Yes! today this may seem the right answer, but that is not the point being put forth in today’s discussion. With the increased usage of Google as a tool for information search and ordering, all of us have benefited – no questions at all!! But what has happened, which is now surfacing in small proportions and if not corrected may very well be the next epidemic is – misunderstanding Google for an analyst! Just think of these:

  • In the recently concluded interview – we had a candidate who claimed the reason he should be taken as an analyst was he could search well on the net.  He chose skill to ‘Google’ over analysis of the ‘Google’d data
  • When we asked students in one of our recent programs to give us a write up on Kano Model we had two of the seventy three students submit an essay on “Cannon” company; with word to word picked off the first site thrown by Google!
  • One young CEO even told us that his software engineers use Google to pick pieces of code from the Internet! Where does this leave us?
  • In fact in many presentations people have started replacing the long list of bibliography with a single word: Google!

A simple test revealed that many of today’s senior FMCG personnel make for good CEOs – reason: The Road was the start! Very uninteresting for today’s youth especially IT savvy professionals and business school graduates. What does this translate to? Very few senior personnel from the information industry actually make good architects / great managers let alone the potential CxO tag holders – reason: Lack of starting from the Road!

There was a time where managers used to push people to leverage on existing knowledge and experience, instead of adopting a discovery mode. “Don’t reinvent the wheel”, “Re usability”, “Learn from past” were often used words at youngsters joining the corporate world. The intent was to channel their efforts into building their expertise over what the organization has already accumulated as learning and knowledge.

But today, things are slightly different. With a powerful tool like Google at their disposal the younger generation seems to have taken the above phrases to the extreme. We have today research reports that can be churned out in matter of hours without moving out of the desk. In fact going out on the street and doing an environment scan, etc is not seen as efficient. Today we can have presentations made for an entire workshop with the person’s only competency being effective Google search. Probably “knowledge worker” enthusiasts will be surprised at the way “effectiveness” is being misunderstood.

Some questions to ponder?

  • Has this ready reference made us really more efficient?
  • Has this resulted in the blurred understanding of the meanings between knowledge and learning?
  • Has it actually stunted the experiential learning curve?
  • How often do we see true knowledge creation happening amongst the so called knowledge companies?
  • Is knowledge management a pretext under which information management is being carried out?
  • As leaders & managers we need to be sure of what we want and more importantly how we want it done?

The information generation’s dependency on the search engine for information is a cause of concern if not worry. Today their knowledge is literally at their finger tips – which hit the search button for every report, every information!! This has led to the creation of a new class of professionals – smart, competent, capable but lazy and ignorant!! This may sound a bit harsh but how else can we be made to understand that “search” which results in “information” is NOT knowledge?


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